Thursday, September 30, 2010

Food, fun and WALKING!

So my three days of meetings, lots of delicious food and lack of my normal routine are over.  After my stress and struggles over day one I decided I would stop stressing about it and just enjoy it.  I still tried to maintain portions, and asked myself what I would have done prior to Weight Watchers and then tried to make better choices than I previously would have.  At least then I know I did less damage than I would have done if it were four months prior!  I can't say I chose great things, because I didn't.  I went well over my weekly points, probably in alcohol alone.  I ate small desserts, I had some junk food, I had some french fries.  Was this a failure of a week?  NO!

The last three days were temporary.  The food I ate is no longer my normal lifestyle, it once was, but it isn't anymore.  Drinking is not part of my normal lifestyle.  My lifestyle is a healthy one, full of healthy foods, exercise and positive thoughts.  I think that's what threw me off more than the initial panic over the food choices - I started back down the path of negative speak.  Rather than feeling like the healthy new me, I felt like the fat girl eating the fatty foods again.  Well, until I came to grips with the fact that even if I can't make good choices over the next few days - I can still be the healthy girl!  I can get right back on plan.  I can get right back into my routine.  Just as my "I am a spring" post said - I can bounce back!

So, tomorrow is bounce day.

I had one really great surprise yesterday.  There was a lot of walking!  I had a moment of "wow" when I realized I made it through a team building exercise pain-free.  We went to a theme park and walked, and walked, and walked a little more.  Three years ago we did a similar activity and I was in physical pain walking out of the park.  I HURT.  I actually hurt for days afterward.  This time, it was so different.  I was able to keep up!  I was able to walk out of the park, without pain, feeling pretty good and then able to go out partying that night!  Granted, I think I sweat more than anyone else there, not that they weren't sweating, and I looked ridiculous when all was said and done (beet red, dripping in sweat, hair soaked) but I finished!  Just typing that makes me feel fantastic. 

This change comes after only 16 weeks.  It comes after only losing 35lbs.  The body is a pretty amazing thing.  If you treat it right, even for a short period of time, it bounces back dramatically! 

This activity also gave me some added confidence for my first 5k which is coming up fast, Saturday!

So tonight, I'm relaxing.  Tomorrow I plan to do some core exercises to try to save my walking legs.  I know the 5k is going to be a challenge and I'm super excited to do it! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Help Me I'm Trapped and I Have No Choices

Today has been a really difficult day with food choices.  For the next few days I'm in all day meetings at a convention center.  All meals are provided by the company, they are beautifully done and delicious; but TEMPTING!  LOL 

Breakfast was really the best meal of the day.  I was able to get a small portion of eggs, some fruit and one small hash brown.  Other than the hash brown, it wasn't an unhealthy breakfast.  I maintained healthy portions, I avoided the bacon, sausage, pancakes, bagels, full fat cream cheese, muffins, danishes, donuts and butter.  However, it was all downhill from there.

Today's lunch was themed like a southern barbecue; fried chicken, macaroni and cheese loaded with corn, bacon and ham, pulled beef brisket, biscuits, hard rolls, salad stuffed full of eggs, chicken, ham, bacon, blue cheese and full fat dressings, oh, and corn chowder.  Additionally there was an entire table set up with a variety of cakes, cheesecakes, cream pies and more. Can you say, "yum?"

Now, I tried to be good, however, out of the food offered, there simply weren't any low fat choices to be made.  I did my best with lunch.  I chose small portions, avoided the dessert table and drank plenty of water.  Then 3pm rolled around.  I was starving, obviously from small portions of the low fiber, high fat food choices at lunch.  I hear the doors open to the conference room and rolling in is a huge table of movie theater snacks - popcorn, big box candies, nachos and cheese.  Ugg - talk about tough!  I did my best but I did eat popcorn and some whoppers.  It was so good, I might add.

I have to look at today as just one of those days.  This isn't the end.  If the scale this week doesn't show a loss (and even if it shows a gain) all will be fine.  It's just one week.  It's just one weigh in.  I say it over and over again because I MUST believe it.

The next few days I will focus on portion control.  Tracking is difficult so I will have to estimate points as much as possible.  But, I will track it!  Since I know breakfast will be the better option, I will make healthy choices for that meal and hold some fruit aside for a morning snack before lunch.  I will do my best to get exercise in - even if it's non-traditional exercise.  Workouts aren't possible, but there is a lot of walking.  I also have my first 5k this Saturday, so hopefully that will help a little (if not for weigh in on this Sunday - the results may show next Sunday).

The point is, life is going to happen and sometimes choices are more difficult than when I only have to deal with my own little controlled bubble of healthy foods.  I have to flex and I have to have reasonable expectations.  Events like this happen very rarely and part of life is also enjoying it.  If I have a gain this week, at least I know it was a good time and worth it. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Busy Weeks Can Be Healthy Too

Do you ever feel like you just don't have time to work in eating healthy and exercising?  Life moves fast and it feels like we are trying harder and harder to fit more and more into each 24 hour segment.  I won't lie, it DOES take quite a bit of time to get the shopping done, meal plan, prepare the meals, track the points and exercise, but certainly not nearly as much as anticipated.  I've also found some work-arounds which not only save me time but help me stay on program.

1. Really prepare foods.  Have you ever brought that fresh fruit home and by the time you got around to cutting it up it is no longer in a form that is recognizable and you think some mad scientist entered your kitchen and left something behind?  Yeah, me too.  Or, you do cut it up and you put it in a giant container in your fridge.  It's beautiful, all that color in the bowl, but it's so much easier to stop by the vending machine at work or find some other grab and go snack later.

There is an easy work around to this.  I've found if I cut and clean my fruits and veggies as soon as I get home from the store and package them in my refrigerator in single servings, I'm more likely to use it as my grab and go foods.  It's also so much easier to drop a baggie of grapes in a lunch bag in the morning vs having to get the giant bowl out of the fridge, scoop them into a baggie or take along dish and then put it all back in the fridge.

2.  Pre-planning on the weekends saves time during the week.  I work full-time and go to school in the evenings, full-time.  There are many nights that I really don't have time to prepare a meal after work as I don't even make it home - I go straight to school and get home after 9pm.  But, this doesn't have to be a  deal breaker.  Often I will cook several meals on Sundays, the crockpot and the oven will be filling the house with yummy goodness.  Then it's super simple for my husband just to heat up something when I'm not here and I can take dinner with me in my lunch bag.  I don't skip meals (which is not healthy and unlike popular myth, doesn't assist in weight loss), I still eat on plan and skip running through a drive-thru.  A bonus is food prep during the week doesn't suck into hours that don't exist. 

3.  Make a 1/2 hour of "me" time each day.  I've created a blog entry completely devoted to this one, so I'll try to keep this short.  Stop looking at your workout as just one more thing on an already stretched to-do list.  Everyone needs time for themselves.  Look at your exercise time as a little "you" time and actually use it that way.  If you enjoy music, jam out to some favorite songs (I recommend listening to energizing music during a workout anyway - I know I get much more out of it).  If you enjoy dancing, nothing is stopping you from mentally taking yourself to the club as you pound the pavement getting that 1/2 hour walk in.  Shoot, sometimes my jogging turns into a rhythmical motion to the beat of Lady Gaga singing "Just Dance. . ."  If you are spiritual, I've found my exercise time to be a great way to stay closer to God.  I've had many conversations with Him as the sweat poured.  (I try to stay away from Lady Gaga songs when I'm praying. LOL)

4.  Know your week.  If you know it's going to be crazy and you aren't sure you will have time to spend in the kitchen prepping foods, consider the cost difference of purchasing some things prepared.  For example, if I know I'm not going to have the time to clean a lot of fruits I will buy one of those bowls of fresh fruit from the produce section.  Price difference?  About $3 for the purchase - granted it's a little less quantity.  Am I worth the extra $3 on the weeks that I'm busy?  You bet I am!  I apply this reasoning to any frozen Weight Watchers entrees or desserts I purchase also.  Money comes and goes - weight stays and is DIFFICULT to get rid of before it kills you.  I'd rather spend a little extra, do myself and my family a favor.

Don't set yourself up for failure.  You know life is busy.  You know that many profits have been made by selling unhealthy, fast options for those that need the gift of time.  Don't allow yourself to be caught up in a whirlwind of the week, ill prepared, no meal plans and ready to lay down a few dollars at the golden arches or releasing all your stress with a midnight date with Little Debbie.  Don't allow these foods to wiggle their way into your life, again.  If it's not in the house, you can't eat it.  If the money isn't spent on those things, you can't eat it.  If you have children and find this difficult, remember, you are changing your lifestyle from what you grew up knowing to something better - perhaps if you make the change now, they will never have to make it.  It's ok to not have potato chips in the house.  It's ok not to have Little Debbie in the house.  Especially on weeks you know will be stressful and pushing you to the max.

If you are a stress eater, go ahead and get some healthy alternatives to those cravings you have with stress and put them in your food planner for your trigger times.  On my stressed weeks, often the ones I have the least amount of time, I crave chocolate.  I know I do, I know I will want it so I purchase Weight Watchers chocolate cake or ice creams - or Vitatop Vitamuffins Deep Chocolate.  I can then look forward to enjoying it when my day winds down but stay on track.

Do you have any foods or ideas that keep you on track during those weeks that keep you stretched to your max?

Week 16 - Weigh In

Wow, week 16!  I can't believe I've been doing this program four months - my things have changed so much.

I've gone from eating some form of beef (often ground) nearly daily, lunches out and no exercise to eating beef once per week (and only lean beef), rarely eating lunch out of the office and enjoying healthy food choices.

The most exercise I used to get was chasing a two year old and perhaps the trip back and forth in the evenings to grab snacks.  That was it!

In the last 16 weeks I've learned so much and I've lost so much!  This week I lost 3.2lbs.  I'm only 3 lbs away from my 10% goal.  It is completely possible that I may reach that next week (or the week after, which I'm completely ok with!)  Honestly, I'm starting to get nervous about the pain involved with getting my nose pierced - the day is drawing near.  LOL

Easy stats:
This week's loss:  3.2lbs
Total loss: 34.8
Total towards "Lose for Good" (6 week goal):  14lbs out of 15lbs - only 1 more pound to go!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Food Fridays - Potato and Canadian Bacon Slow Cooker Chowder

This recipe is from the Weight Watchers site and linked below.
 Course: soups
POINTS® Value:    3
Servings:  6
Preparation Time:  25 min
Cooking Time:  360 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy
Works with Simply Filling
This rich, chunky chowder is extremely satisfying. Lean Canadian bacon gives it great flavor without much fat.


2 cup(s) potato(es), cut into 1/2-inch cubes   
1 large carrot(s), diced   
1 cup(s) leek(s), chopped, white part only   
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced   
4 cup(s) fat-free chicken broth   
1/2 cup(s) uncooked barley   
1 piece(s) bay leaf   
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed   
1/4 tsp black pepper   
4 oz Canadian-style bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces   
1/2 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk   
2 oz fat-free half-and-half   


  • In a slow cooker, combine potatoes, carrots, leek, garlic, broth, barley, bay leaf, thyme, pepper and bacon; cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  • Stir in evaporated milk and half-and-half; heat through, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Yields about 1 2/3 cups per serving.
Click here to view recipe at, read reviews or learn more about the program.

This potato soup was one of the best I've ever had.  It was so easy to make, extremely filling and had a VERY low points value considering the quantity.

While it's not really fall-like where I live, this would be perfect on a cool fall day!  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hungry Days: Ward off the Nag of the Hunger Monster

In the last 15 weeks I have had very few days where I felt hungry.  However, yesterday was one of those few.  I'm not EXACTLY sure what the driver was for the hunger, but I have a hunch.  I certainly wasn't varying far from my normal routine of breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. . .but nonetheless, I felt STARVED all day long.

The good news is, I made it through my hungry day without going over my points.  I didn't even dip into my weekly points.  I tried a few different things to keep me from dipping into that bowl of chocolate on my co-worker's desk or running to the vending machine for empty calorie snacks.

The first thing I did was looked at my tracker.  I didn't change anything in it, I kept to my plan, but I did compare the 5 points of chocolate vs. the bagel thin, cream cheese, orange and yogurt that equaled the same 5 points.  I mentally compared the value of the two 5 point options and it seemed like a no-brainer.  Of course I ate the bagel, fruit and yogurt!  The nice thing is, I could have made the choice to eat the chocolate, and all would have been fine.  I wouldn't have been blowing my day.  My week wouldn't have been over because I indulged a bit. I would have more than likely still had a loss on the scale, but after comparing the two choices it was obvious I would feel better and remain satisfied longer if I stuck with my healthy choice.

Many times we just eat on impulse.  Poor choices are made because we don't even give the choice a thought.  Mindless eating happens and we are left with the consequences to think about later.  I find if I just pull back, think about those choices, really compare the two - the healthy choice then comes easier.

When I got home, the hunger monster was still nagging.  I ate my planned snack.  I still felt the nag.  So I started reading some of my older blog posts.  I read about good days.  I read about celebrations.  These things seemed to silent the monster.

I also know the nagging isn't so much that I'm hungry, I'm eating a healthy diet, I'm well nourished.  The nag is there because I'm stressed.  I have a lot going on right now with work and school.  The children are all back in school.  Life is spinning so quickly that I get dizzy, often.  This is where the emotional eating comes in.  My stress transfers over to a hunger feeling.  This is a craving of "I need something" and instantly  in my mind and body that "I need something" trigger changes to "I need food." 

Recognition of this, helps.  Willpower, helps.  Looking back on where I have been, helps.  Looking forward to where I want to be, helps.  And when all of these things don't feel like enough, two choices remain - workout or go to bed.  Last night I opted for sleep.  I woke up refreshed and today I'm not so hungry.

Stay well my friends.  If you are on a program of some sort and today is a hungry day - find something that will slap that "nag" in the face.  Fight back!  That's what I'm doing. :)

Everyone has hungry days.  What do you do to stay on plan those days when the hunger monster is nagging?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For My Health, For the Health of Others, and In Memory - I Will Walk

This particular walk is meaningful to me, for several reasons.  First the title alone is screaming at me - START!  I have never walked in a charity walk.  I rarely exercise outside the privacy of my home.  With never doing this in my life, I have to start somewhere - so the symbolism of that alone means a lot to me.

But, it's more than just a catchy marketing campaign, much more.  My family, on both sides, has a history of heart disease.  My mother's father died of a heart attack when she was three years old.  This event left a lasting emotional impression on my family.  I hold near to my heart stories my grandmother told me of this tall, handsome man she loved so much.  My mother has told me of the few memories she has of him, coming home from work, always having a small piece of candy in his pocket that she would reach in to get as soon as he walked in the door.

My grandmother (my mother's mother) suffered a massive stroke in 1993.  It was that single event that put me on the road to becoming a nurse so many years ago and has influenced me to return to my dream so many years later.  My grandmother was like a second mother to me, and I miss her dearly.  She lived with my family from the time I was six years old until she suffered the stroke when I was 16.  It was December 20, 1993 and I feel like it was yesterday.  It was cold and snowy and I remember walking into the hospital after some last minute Christmas shopping with my mother.  My grandmother had been in the hospital for pneumonia, but was supposed to go home the next day.  She would be home for the holidays!

It was a smaller town and the doctor was waiting for us as we approached the elevator.  His words ring through my ears like screams after a rock concert.

"Your mother has had a little stoke," he said to my mom.

We rushed to her room to find her in a deep sleep.  Her face was visibly different.  Her right arm was noticeably affected.  The days that followed were a blur of pain, sadness and unknowns.  Eventually, she regained awareness but her words were lost forever.  She was never able to speak again.  She was bound to a wheelchair and spent her last years in a nursing home.  Two years, five months and 18 days she lived in bondage, trapped in her body and mind. 

Her death was a sweat release from the torment left from the stroke.  She went home, finally.

Many family members on my mother's side have suffered from heart disease and heart attack.  It has taken far too many.

My father's family is no different.  My grandfather was the ultimate family man.  He worked hard, as a UPS driver, raising six children.  After years of dedication he retired to enjoy his golden years.  But those years were cut far too short.  In a single moment, walking across his living room, he passed from this life into the next.  A massive heart attack left my grandmother a widow, left my father and his siblings without their beloved father.  Many grandchildren have come since his departure that he is looking down upon from heaven; but I know he would have loved to have rocked them on his knee.

Heart disease haunts my family.  We have the ability to change and prevent heart disease.  One means is simply doing what I'm doing.  Make a commitment to change your life - eat healthy and exercise. The second, is to participate locally in walks like Start! Heart Walk. Please don't take this blog entry as a plea for money, as I am not a fundraiser.  I've listed the banner to the right, should you so wish to donate.  But more so, I'm interested in building awareness, encouraging others to get out there and move and if I should be so bold, inspire someone else to make a change.

Please think of me Saturday, October 2nd.  For me, signing up and attending is an achievement.  While I will push myself to finish - just making the attempt is an accomplishment.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Confessions of a Weight Watcher - I'm NOT Dieting!

When doing Weight Watchers (WW) it is stressed that WW isn't a "diet" - it's a lifestyle change. While this is true,  and like Weight Watchers, I do differ on the use of the word "diet" as a verb, it is a noun, as anything we eat is a diet. Some people may choose to eat a high fat, low veggie diet. Some people may choose to eat a high fiber, low fat diet - (basically Weight Watchers). Some people may need to eat a regulated carbohydrate diet to control things like diabetes. All are diets - they just aren't all healthy diets or weight loss diets.  Perhaps the downfall really is when the word is used as a verb, rather than a noun.  "I'm dieting" is a temporary action.  "I eat a healthy diet" is permanent thing (or can be).

I keep saying it over and over again but I think while on this journey of change, one must force brutal honesty; otherwise, the weight will pile back on just as it did in the last ______ (fill in the blank) times it has been attempted. My honest moment is this - I have to be on a special diet the rest of my life. That, my friends, IS my lifestyle change. Just as diabetes is a disease that needs controlled, so is obesity. This is it.  I count points.  I plan my meals.  I purchase special foods.  Forever. Period.

It really isn't so bad though, in fact, it's fabulous!  Now, 15 weeks in, I find I crave healthy foods.  I enjoy grapes.  I like all white meat turkey hot dogs.  I love how fast and convenient it is to pull some salad out of the refrigerator, grill a lean protein, put it all the the table and be finished with dinner prep!  I think it's fantastic that because I've adopted a schedule of eating light meals and healthy snacks - I'm NEVER hungry!  My energy has gone through the roof.  I feel good.  I never get bored because options for eating quick, healthy meals are endless. I prefer thin, brown breads, over thick, white breads.  I take pride in taking only that thin slice of cake at a get-together, that I've already calculated to be four points.  I like taking my packed lunch to work with my daily snacks and I like it even better when I can tell a co-worker about a fantastic product I've found.

Yes, this lifestyle change works for me.  I like it, a lot.

Week 15 - Weight In

Another 2.4lbs gone!  Great weigh in today! Today's message at the meeting was about asking for help, which really seems right on target with where I am considering I just went public with my blog - essentially asking all I know (and don't know) for the help and support as I work towards a new me!  Two weeks ago I set my Lose for Good goal at 15lbs in six weeks.  So far I've lost 10.8lbs towards that goal.  My 10% is so close I can see it - I'm in the same decade (30lbs)!

Easy stats:
This week's loss:  2.4lbs
Total loss: 31.6
Total towards "Lose for Good" (6 week goal):  10.8lbs out of 15lbs - only 4.2 to go!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Just Felt Like Running

"My mama always said, 'you've got to put the past behind you, before you can move on.'  And I think that's what my run was all about."

Last night's workout started like any other.  I put my comfortable clothes on, which are getting very loose I might add, slipped on the sneakers, grabbed my HTC Hero, browsed to Rhapsody and clicked on my workout playlist.  I hopped on the treadmill for my 30 minute walk/jog.  In the first five minutes of warming up I thought about how each muscle felt.  I concentrated on the muscles in my legs, contracting and releasing, imagining how their contractions send the blood flow in my veins back up my legs.  How my heart must increase the rate of pumping to supply those muscles with enough oxygen to keep up with the stress I'm forcing upon them and how this work, this stress, makes them stronger.  I'm forcing myself to become physically stronger.

But this entire journey is about so much more than just the physicality of losing weight, becoming physically healthy and physically thin. I find my time on the treadmill is not just about the physical exertion; while that certainly helps the weight loss, it's a time of reflection which does just as much good for my mental strength as it does for my physical strength.  Last night, I took a deep dive into the mirrored lake.

I posted this video of Forrest Gump as it truly is a great example of breaking boundaries.  He ran through the town, then through the county, then through the state and then continued to push himself passed each and every boundary he had set for himself.  He had control.  He had to tell himself to just keep going.  After he made it through one, he decided it wasn't time to quit yet and tackled the next.  He broke through his self-imposed bondage.

Last night I walked/jogged for an hour.  I didn't set my goal to run for an hour.  Like any other night, I started with the vision of 30 minutes.  Once I hit 30, I decided I really could make it to 45.  Surprisingly enough, once I hit 45 minutes I wasn't satisfied and just kept going until I saw that 60 on the display.  It wasn't easy and through the hour I had moments of the little devil on my shoulder telling me it was enough, telling me I could rest, but through those moments I slowed the pace, recovered slightly and then hit the ground faster than before.

I vow to break my own bondage.  It can be done.  It will be done.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Fridays - Four Products I Can't Live Without

Each Friday is Food Fridays!  These blog entries will include product suggestions, recipes, tips and techniques that I have used.

This week I'm going to share four of the products that are "must have's" in my house each week.  You can click the name of each product to view their website for more information.

Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch Salad Dressing
I prefer ranch dressing.  I can't help it.  I simply don't like any other dressing.  Obviously, this preference is not typically conducive to weight loss.  The low fat and lite dressings by  most of the salad dressing companies just taste sour or sweet.  Bleh!  But, I've found the one! This is by far the best "lite" ranch dressing I have found.  By using yogurt, the fat is cut by over half when comparing to a regular ranch dressing and it tastes fabulous!!  It is found in the refrigerated produce section of the supermarket and is slightly more money than the regular ranch, but well worth it!

Weight Watcher's Point Value = 1pt for 1 Tbsp or 2pts for 2 Tbsp
(If you dip your fork in your salad dressing rather than pouring it on, 1 Tbsp is plenty!)

VitaTops 100 Calorie Muffin Tops
The only word I can use to express how good these are is: heavenly!  They are packed full of nutrition.  Made with organic sugar and whole wheat flour, you can't go wrong.  You can find Vitatops in an assortment of flavors (my favorite is Deep Chocolate) in the freezer section of your grocery store.

Weight Watcher's Point Value = 1pt each

Peter Pan Whipped Creamy Peanut Butter
You don't have to give up peanut butter to lose weight! A great source of protein and such an easy snack, I love peanut butter.  But it typically is a high point value food.  I found this peanut butter to spread so easily, because it is whipped, that I can use far less than the normal serving size.  Additionally, it is reduced sugar which has decreased the calorie count.  I often spread one Tbsp on my vitatop muffin to add some protein to my snack.  The two go so well together.  It's like eating a large peanut butter cup with 0 guilt (not that I subscribe to the guilt about eating thing). :)

Weight Watcher's Point Value = 2pts per 1 Tbsp, 4pts for 2 Tbsp

Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidants - Chocolate Peanut Butter
While we are on the chocolate peanut butter kick, let me just say that these snack bars are the absolute best ever.  With 35% of your daily fiber requirements, they are perfect for that 2pm sweet craving that sends you searching the office for candy!

Weight Watcher's Point Value = 2pts per bar

These items are stocked in my refrigerator, freezer and pantry at all times!

What items have you found really help you along the way?  What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?

As always, please "Like" Fat Girl Fights Back on Facebook and share it with your friends.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm a Recovering Addict

That's difficult to admit.  It's not like it isn't obvious to see, looking in the mirror or just walking by me on the street; but it is a hard fact for me to swallow (unlike most things, for a food addict).  This is a vital revelation to recovery.  As with any addiction, whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and even the internet, one must admit they have a problem in order to correct it.

Unfortunately, many confuse the symptom for the problem.  My problem isn't that I'm overweight, that is a symptom of something much deeper.  No, my problem is I seek to comfort my emotions using a source not meant for comfort - mine being food.  As a result, the symptom then creates more emotions that must be comforted by, you guessed it, more food!

It is a cycle that began before I could even read, more than likely it began before I could even speak.  At a young age, I found comfort in food.  That comfort was only reinforced by well-meaning, loving parents who often gave cookies for boo-boos, pie for bad days, chocolate cake for straight A's and treats for being good in general.  Certainly, this isn't unique to my family, it is within our culture - it is why we take food to a funeral (everyone does that, right?) and grocery stores are stocked with cakes for celebrations.

But the issue isn't our culture, at least I don't think it is.  The issue is, much like an alcoholic drinks in excess, I eat in excess to escape.  Certainly, we can come up with excuses all day long to hide the fact that we simply put a lot the wrong stuff in, which in turn causes obesity.

"I'm big boned."

"It's genetic."

"My metabolism is slow."

While certainly there are health conditions that can create problems with weight, the vast majority of Americans suffering from obesity are doing so because they live a life of excess and are users of food.

What is the difference between this addiction and others?  What makes it so difficult to combat?  Well, consider someone that has an addiction to alcohol or drugs.  That individual does not need alcohol or drugs to survive, despite what their addiction feels like, and they can, with proper medical attention, stop "cold turkey" so to speak.  Yet, a food addict MUST eat - not eating isn't an option, as it is certain death.  So multiple times a day the food addict must hold the will of God to not overeat, not feed their addiction, but nourish their body at the same time.  We all know that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  Once recovered, they can never take a sip of alcohol again or they chance falling off the wagon.  But what about the food addict?  No wonder losing weight is so difficult!

Another aspect is there is nothing secret about food addition, you can't hide it.  Every stranger you meet, every person you speak to (or don't speak to because people rarely make eye contact with you) knows you have a problem.  This isn't like "Aunt Ida" who keeps vodka in the dresser drawer, hidden away from everyone else.  Close family members may know she has a problem, but for the most part, in public, "Aunt Ida" is normal.  No, every single person has an opportunity to pass judgment upon the food addict; and they often do.  This alone feeds into more comfort eating, causing more weight and an even larger scarlet letter.

I've said this a few times, that this blog is really a source for many things.  It's therapeutic for me, as I often write things here that I cannot express in person, and never have.  I hope it is comforting to others, as I have felt completely alone in this struggle most of my life - please don't feel alone, there are many of us!  I hope it is motivational, as it motivates me to stay the course - perhaps it encourages others to start a change in their lives, also.  Lastly, I hope it's insightful.  Food addiction is often oversimplified in a culture that pushes "quick fixes" like diet pills, shakes and surgery for something that is far more profound than just, "I eat too much."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I am a spring.

Well, it happened.  I attempted too much, ill prepared, and I resorted to stopping at the golden arches for dinner.  Worse yet, I had just spent over an hour in the grocery store, it had been hours since my last snack and I was STARVING!  At 7:30 at night, standing in the store checkout, the idea of going home and preparing a meal for the whole family just seemed too daunting to take on.

Yes, I had many options available.  Looking back I could have, would have, should have made some better choices.  But, I didn't.  Is this the end for this week?  Hell no!

I am a spring.  I can bounce out of shape for a mere moment and then back to regular position the next.  Yes, I had some yummy (well, shockingly enough it wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it being, so perhaps not so yummy) high fat, high carbohydrate, low fiber, fried foods. For the first time in several weeks, I dipped into my weekly points allowance.

For those unfamiliar with Weight Watchers, basically you get daily points that you should eat all of, everyday and then you have weekly points, which are flexible.  You can choose to eat them, or not.  You also can earn activity points for workouts.

So, I did it.  You know what I say to that?  That's life!  It's not rigid.  You will not have a perfect day, every day.  Some days you will walk out of the house in a hurry, make great choices all day long despite the fact that you left your lunch bag on the counter and still fall off the wagon in a few moments of, "it's late, I'm tired, I have a lot to do" talk, while having all the right foods in the car with you.

What now?  Well, it's pretty simple.  As soon as I finished, I immediately logged on to my points tracker and inputted the entire 24 points consumed in that one sitting.  If I did it, I must hold myself accountable.  This shouldn't be confused with guilt.  Such emotions linked to food seem unhealthy to me and more than likely put me in the place I am now.  I made the choice to eat that Big Mac.  I enjoyed the heck out of those fries.  So be it, it's done. Moving on now, right this second, right this very minute.  You know what the best part is?  I'm still not "over" points.  I would only be over points if I used all my dailies, weeklies and activities.

The point of this droning on about this one single meal is this; we create our own defeat.  It is our reactions to these events that make or break our goals.  This is not a breaker.  In fact, I can honestly say, I have no desire to eat that "crap" again for a very long time!  If anything, my lazy night meal only reinforces how much I have changed.  I enjoy my fresh fruits, my veggies, my low-fat meats and my whole grains.  I'd much prefer something fresh over something processed.

Tomorrow is another day and I feel just fine.

What are some of your experiences?  How are you coping with springing back?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reject the Path of Patronization

Yeah, I know, it's been a long day.  Perhaps you woke up late for work, made a mad dash to get the children ready for school, barely having enough time to get a shower yourself.  You pack your lunch quickly, singing your own praises for purchasing those frozen entrees, as you throw one in your bag with some healthy snacks.  You grab a bagel thin and some low fat cream cheese, your purse (and in my case, book bag) and you rush out the door.  Maybe you work late in the evenings, or you have after work activities at church or clubs.  Perhaps, you go to school in the evening like I do.  Regardless, you've put in a full day, you missed working out that morning (or maybe you don't workout regularly).  It's 9pm - how are you going to get motivated to get on that treadmill or do that DVD for another half an hour???

I'll tell you how.  Change your mindset!  Rather than looking at your workout as just another difficult, hum drum activity that must be done before your day is finished; think of it as some "you" time.  

Tonight, as I was walking out of class, I started down the path of patronization.  It was only for a split second, but I did it.  You know the path, you know the words.

"You're tired. You've put in a full day.  Go ahead, you can skip it.  It's ok.  You earned it today.  You can always do it tomorrow."

Immediately I stopped and decided I needed a boost.  I plugged my HTC Hero (love this phone, highly recommend it) in my car's stereo, browsed to Rhapsody and cranked up Lady Gaga on the drive home.  It made me want to dance!  As I ate my fiber bar (snack after class) I could feel myself wanting to move.  By the time I arrived home I couldn't wait to get my workout clothes on and get on the treadmill, and that's exactly what I did.

Change is something that doesn't come easy.  It takes constant effort to bust through old habits and create new ones.  Negative speak can be your worst enemy.  I try to keep a few things in mind for when I fall into this type of rut.

  1. Working out FEELS GOOD!  I have never felt as good as I do about five minutes after my workout.  My body feels relaxed, endorphins are flowing and I feel as though I can take on anything!
  2. A half hour (or an hour on good days) to myself is an absolute treat!  Nothing is more isolating, lending more time for reflection, than putting in a pair of ear buds and just jogging.  It's time to think, reflect and plan. 
  3. It's a vent of emotions.  I can let the music set the tone and air out some pretty hardcore emotions with each foot as it hits the belt of the treadmill.  What an amazing release of stress to just let it pour out of your body as you push harder and harder and how wonderful it feels after releasing all that anxiety, fear, anger or sadness.
  4. It can be fun!  Yes, that's right, I said it, FUN. I never, in my life, found physical exertion fun. I hated Physical Education.  I never played sports.  I remember hating the walk home my sophomore year of high school.  However, I have a new found appreciation for exercise.  Sometimes, I imagine I'm dancing, other times, running a marathon.  At the end, I turn on an epic WIN song and feel like I truly am the champion!
  5. I remind myself of my end goal.  Without exercise, I will not get to where I want to go.  I will not achieve the healthy, fit, thin me I so desire. 
Perhaps you have your own list.  What motivates you to get that workout in, even on the days you feel like you've done all you can do?

Lose for Good Lose-a-palooza

Today is Lose-a-palooza!  This is a one day, social media event to drive participation in the Lose For Good® campaign.

I love the fact that Weight Watchers always has these side "campaigns" which can really motivate.  It breaks up the weeks a bit, and helps on those days where self motivation may be lower.

I would like to encourage all reading this to comment to this blog with the words "Lose for Good."  For every mention on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc, Weight Watchers has committed to donating $1 to world hunger!  Your comment is one more dollar for the cause!  Please share this blog with your friends, encourage them to post a comment with the words "Lose for Good."  Such an easy, fun way to fight world hunger!

This week, as part of the Lose for Good campaign, I will be taking 8.4lbs of food to my Weight Watchers meeting (equal to my loss last week) which will be donated to a local food bank.

Today, together, we can do this!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blip Buster Weeks

What the heck is a "blip buster week?" Well, it's the term I use for the week following a small (or not so small) gain.

Above is my Weight Watchers tracking chart, a great visual of what has taken place over the last 14 weeks. Of course, my "goal weight" is my 10% weight loss and not my ultimate goal weight, but it is far easier to celebrate these major milestones rather than wait until I finally get to the 140lbs I'm shooting for.

Following each of the weeks that I had a blip - I had a blip buster week. These are weeks that I saw substantial loss and continued to trend downward after putting on a small gain. Now, perhaps this is because the gain woke me up from straying slightly off program. Maybe I didn't drink enough water for a few days and I began to retain water, maybe I had started eyeballing portions rather than getting the measuring spoons or food scale out, perhaps it was just luck of the draw and the mitochondria in my muscles didn't produce the same amount of ATP making my body metabolize slower and hold on to more glycogen, storing it as body fat (why yes, I am an A&P student); whatever the reason, those weeks can and should be used as a motivation. Life happens, man. We have to flex. We have to move forward. From here on, I refuse to get down if I see a blip. In fact, I plan to get excited, because you better believe the scale the following week is going to be unbelievable!

These little dots on the grid are mere dots. One dot, without those around it, is meaningless. Weight loss is movement, the dot, the single weigh in, is stagnant. Focus on the movement, focus on the many dots and look forward to your blip buster weeks!

So, for those on this same journey, walking these same roads; embrace your blips and look forward to the bust, as it is often those weeks following a gain that you have the most to celebrate.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pesky Lab Coat That Saved My Life

Today is an amazing day! In May, the catalyst to my weight loss journey was this pesky lab coat that wouldn't fit. (Read about it here) It was too small, I could only button a single button and it was the largest I could find without it being custom made. It was this event, that made me say, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH - CHANGE NOW!"

Today, I decided to try the lab coat on. I've done this a few times over the last few months, each time having one or two buttons that wouldn't fit, but still celebrating the obvious change in how it hung on my body and how the lower buttons inched closer to the holes.

Today, I was able to button each and every button, with a lot of room in the top to spare!

It appears I may need to purchase a new lab coat for Microbiology in January after all - a smaller one!!!

Lose for Good Goal - Week 1 Weight In

Last week I posted my story board with a six week goal set. 15lbs in six weeks. When I was setting the goal I questioned myself if it might be slightly too high. If one averages about 2lbs per week, is it really possible to eek out those extra three pounds over the six week period to hit that 15? I decided I would push myself. I can do it! And if I don't, whatever the loss, it's a larger loss than I would have had if I was doing nothing at all - so 15lbs is the set goal.

This morning, as I rushed around in a mad dash to get to all my Sunday morning obligations, running late of course, missing my actual Weight Watchers meeting - I ran in between appointments to get weighed.

To my surprise I lost 8.4lbs this week! So after one week with the goal of 15lbs, I've lost over half of it! Now, mind you, the week prior I had gained 6.4lbs - so I'm sure getting back on program and doing it perfectly this week really jump started my weight loss this week - perhaps in parallel to the first week on program. Regardless of what it is - I'll take it!

I will keep taking the steps I outlined on the story board and I will absolutely hit my 15lb goal in six weeks. Here we go!

I've lost almost 30lbs total since starting Weight Watchers. If you look at the picture, the yellow blob is 5lbs of fat. I've lost almost six of those yellow blobs!

Wow, what a wonderful feeling. I broke my 25lb mark again, I've lost over 5% of my body weight (now nearing my 10% mark) and I feel better than ever!

Ok, easy stats:
Week 14: 8.4lbs lost
Total gone: 29.2lbs

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Goal Setting - Lose for Good

At my Weight Watchers meeting this morning, my leader provided us with a storyboarding handout. It was to assist us in setting a goal for the next six weeks during the Lose for Good challenge.

The old me would have put this aside. I would have had the intent to complete it, only to put it off. The paper would have drifted from the kitchen counter, to a pile in the office and then eventually the trash - never to be completed.

However, this weight loss journey; well, this is truly a lifestyle change. I am not just changing one thing in my life, I do not live in a silo. To make this one, drastic change, many changes must take place and that includes doing things like story boarding my goals. I committed to make this change and boy, oh boy am I changing.

I sat down and used color pencils to create artwork that would compete with my four year old daughter's creations. I've placed it on my refrigerator as a daily reminder of the steps I must take to reach my goal.

What is my goal you ask? (In case you can't see it in the picture.) 15lbs in six weeks. I can do this!

Steps to Goal:
1. Create meal plans for each week.
2. Grocery shop for all the right food choices.
3. Cook ahead and pack food bag EVERY day.
4. Track every point I eat.
5. Exercise at least 4 times per week.
6. Don't miss a single meeting/weigh in!

Week 13 - Weigh In

Oh what an appropriate name. It's been a rough week with oral surgery and pain, poor food choices and no exercise. I forced myself back to the scale and I gained 6.4lbs. Ugggg! It's ok. I got this and I can do it. I will rock this week and next week will be fantastic. Hope for a 4lb loss next time!

Total loss: 20.8lbs :( (Damn you week 13)